Cover Image: What Happens in the Ballroom

What Happens in the Ballroom

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Excellent second installment in the series. Eliza and her sisters are enjoying the success of their business, Elegant Occasions. While Diana (A Duke for Diana) is still involved, she will give much of her input to her sister-in-law, Rosy. Her marriage to the duke and the impending birth of her child makes her participation more difficult.

Meanwhile, Eliza enjoys the freedom of being a widow and part of their successful business. Her marriage wasn't a happy one. Sam courted the naïve young Eliza and convinced her to elope with him, hoping to get his hands on her dowry. When her father refused to release the funds, Sam's charm disappeared. He later left to play soldier in the war and died there, leaving nothing but debts behind. As a result, Eliza has no interest in marrying again, preferring to live life on her own terms.

Nathaniel was Sam's best friend. They went to war together, though they served in different units. Nathaniel was called back home after his father's death about the same time Sam died. Their commanding general, who was also Nathaniel's mentor, died shortly before Nathaniel left and named Nathaniel as his daughter Jocelin's guardian as she is a widow with a young child. He takes Jocelin to Elegant Occasions and asks them to introduce her to society and help her find a new husband. Eliza is suspicious of the connection between Nathaniel and Jocelin. She remembers him as a rake with a reputation as a womanizer. Could he be trying to palm off his mistress and love child on an unsuspecting suitor? Why does she get the feeling he is hiding something?

I liked Nathaniel and Eliza. Eliza has come into her own after Sam's death. After being belittled by him and dealing with the fallout of his debts after his death, she has found new strength in her work. I loved her confidence in dealing with everyone, from tradesmen to noblemen. She is talented at seeing both sides of a situation and its effects. I liked seeing the progress of her attitude toward her time with Sam, from grief to anger to acceptance. She never expected to be attracted to Nathaniel, and he disturbs her equilibrium.

War has changed Nathaniel from the reckless rake he used to be. The things he has seen had a profound impact on him. Though he is now the earl, his family situation has made him reluctant to marry. When he first knew her, he was attracted to Eliza, but she was his friend's wife and off-limits. He is still attracted to her and wonders if he can get her into his bed.

I enjoyed seeing the relationship develop between Eliza and Nathaniel. The sparks between them are impossible to deny. Nathaniel is quite the flirt and his conversations with Eliza are frequently full of innuendo. Their interchanges are fun to see as she counters his flirtations with snarky comebacks. With her attraction toward him, Eliza is often distracted when near him. It doesn't take long for her to consider enjoying a physical relationship with him while protecting her heart.

But Nathaniel is keeping several secrets, one of which could destroy her business if it gets out. He knows he needs to come clean but keeps putting it off. I quickly guessed one of Nathaniel's secrets that involved Jocelin, but his other secret was an unexpected twist. When he finally does confess, he does so in pieces, leading Eliza to believe he doesn't trust her. Her hurt and anger are understandable and justified. I loved that she called him out and refused to make things easy on him. I liked his "aha" moment and seeing him finally tell her everything. The ending was great, and the epilogue was fun.

I enjoyed young Jocelin and her story. Her little boy was adorable, and I could see why he won the hearts of those who knew him - and why he exhausted them. I felt sorry for her and her discomfort at being presented in society. The change in her when she was around military men was remarkable but understandable, given that her soldier father raised her.

I love the relationship between Eliza and her sisters. They are very close, and it shows in their support for each other and in the way they quibble and tease. Each has strengths that they bring to their business, and I loved watching them carry off triumph after triumph. I am looking forward to the next book, which is Verity's story. I am intrigued by the appearances of the man they call "Phantom Fellow." I suspect he has some connection to Verity, and I can't wait to find out what it is.
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What Happens in the Ballroom by Sabrina Jeffries is the second book in the Designing Debutantes series.  The books each showcase a sister. This is Eliza's story.

Eliza Pierce has made a place for herself with her sisters by creating and running their business, Elegant Occasions. This has given the three something to focus as their world was falling apart. Now, through the worst and making a strong name for themselves, it may be time for Eliza to finally relax and find a little fun.  What's the point of being a young Widow if you always stay in the background.  

Nathaniel Stanton,  Earl of Foxstead, is hoping to launch his ward,  Mrs. Jocelyn March, into society, to find a suitable husband. And who else could assist with that task than his friends widow. Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems.  The attraction Nathaniel feels for Eliza is difficult to ignore.  Eliza is especially wary as her marriage was less than stellar.  Yet secrets and lies could wreak havoc on the carefully stacked cards and quell any potential for a future for them all.  

Come along and enjoy the windy road and the complications that can arise as the threads begin to unwind on the secrets.
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What Happens in the Ballroom by Sabrina Jeffries, book two in the Designing Debutantes series, is a Regency Romance about a group of sisters who have their own business helping prospective debutantes make become successful. Widow Eliza Pierce is enjoying the freedom of running her business, Elegant Occasions, with her sisters. Eliza becomes suspicious when her late husband’s best friend, Nathaniel Stanton, Earl of Foxstead, hires them to help his ward, Jocelin become part of society. Sworn to secrecy, Foxstead is trying to honor a dying wish while keeping his feelings for Eliza in check. Nathanial has always been intrigued by Eliza, but since she was his best friend's girl, he stayed away. Now that she's free, he's doing his best to resist her; while also keeping himself near her, as much as he can. Of course the path of true love is not easy and Nathaniel in particular causes some major obstacles along the way; including some complicated family history, a steamy carriage ride, and some very fun Regency food. Eliza and Nathaniel have amazing chemistry which allows for both tender and humorous moments; with their back-stories allowing for understanding of their motivations. I recommend What Happens in the Ballroom, a light hearted and enjoyable read to other readers, especially those who enjoy the genre.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
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I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this series. The sparkling banter, witty dialog, multi-layered stories, and food (oh my gosh, the food) are lively reminders of why I first fell in love with Jeffries' writing voice. And, as much as I enjoyed book one in the series, I enjoyed this one even more. 

Generally, I'm not in favor of the hero or heroine keeping secrets that directly affect the other but in this case I understood Nathaniel's reasons. There were many lives that would have been impacted had those reasons become public knowledge. I also believed that he would have eventually shared the information with Eliza. I liked him and I especially liked how he treated Eliza (secrets aside) with respect, with care, and with you-are-remarkable-and-I-can't-wait-to-get-naked-with-you desire. Yes, siree, this grown-up couple is hot for each other and I am there for it!

I loved the affection and support among Eliza and her sisters, how they rallied to protect one another. But I also appreciated Eliza's independence and determination to take control of her life, whether as a partner in their business or with Nathaniel in the bedroom...or other rooms. She had been diminished too much during her first marriage and deserved a man who would honor her, celebrate her, desire her, and not lie to her. Her journey with Nathaniel may have been a bit rocky at times but it was also filled with fun, laughter, sizzling chemistry, swoony - if slightly offkey - grand gestures, and a deep, everlasting love. I was cheering them on every step of the way.

Next up is youngest sister, Verity. Her book will be released in 2024 and I cannot wait to discover if her hero will be the mysterious 'Phantom Fellow' who keeps showing up at Elegant Occasions events. Or, if not, how he figures into the story. In the meantime, I enthusiastically recommend picking up a copy of book one, A Duke for Diana and Sabrina Jeffries' current release, What Happens in the Ballroom. 

4.5 stars

ARC received for fair and unbiased review
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What Happens in the Ballroom is the second title in the Designing Debutantes series, and brings us a delightfully complicated relationship between Eliza and Nathaniel. Although Eliza is a widow and a working woman in the Elegant Occasions event-planning venture with her sisters, she’s certainly not grieving the demise of her rather nasty husband. But she is intrigued by her (now deceased) husband’s best friend’s decision to employ the sisters to help launch the society debut of another officer’s widow who also is a mother to a young child. Eliza has questions and the answers aren’t quickly answered since Nathaniel has secrets and a hidden agenda in this decision. There is also that forbidden (until now) spark of attraction between them to be dealt with. Yet what a tangled web their romance becomes.

I enjoyed Nathaniel and Eliza’s story. It’s filled with secrets and banter, laughter and tears, and a definite connection coming to life between two people who seem to fight that attraction every step of the way. It doesn’t help that Eliza is so suspicious of the relationship between the man she’s coming to care about and the mysterious woman she’s helping. Or that Nathaniel is not forthcoming with information that would explain so much. Watching them make missteps and work their way toward a happy ending was an entertaining journey. I had fun back in this world, and that is the entire point of reading romance.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*
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I am so enjoying Sabrina Jeffries’ 𝘋𝘦𝘴𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘋𝘦𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘴 series. After reading the first book, I was looking forward to reading Eliza's story. 𝗪𝗛𝗔𝗧 𝗛𝗔𝗣𝗣𝗘𝗡𝗦 𝗜𝗡 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗕𝗔𝗟𝗟𝗥𝗢𝗢𝗠 did not disappoint. 

Eliza and her sisters have grabbed the entrepreneurial spirit by the horns and made a name for themselves as social event planners to high society. After losing her husband, Eliza enjoys the freedom only afforded to widows. She embraces her independence and runs with it. Not expecting to ever find love again, she is open to other types of entanglements. Enter Nathanial. 

Nathanial is her dead husband’s best friend and unfortunate holder of his secrets. But it is the secret he is holding - the one where he is secretly infatuated with the lovely widow and has been from even before her marriage. I enjoyed watching the two of them tangle and eventually give into the feelings they have. 

𝗪𝗛𝗔𝗧 𝗛𝗔𝗣𝗣𝗘𝗡𝗦 𝗜𝗡 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗕𝗔𝗟𝗟𝗥𝗢𝗢𝗠 Was an enjoyable read, I’m giving it the judy.ann.loves.books stamp of approval, TBR and Enjoy!
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This is the story of Eliza Pierce, a widow who approached by her deceased spouse's friend and former infantry brother, Nathaniel Foxstead, with a proposal that she and her sister's launch his ward, Jocelyn March into society so that she could find a husband.  Nathaniel keeps many secrets of his past along with that of Jocelyn and her son, Jimmie's past also.  While Eliza had a bad marriage with her husband, now that he is deceased she is determined not to remarry.  She and Nathaniel are attracted to each and decide to embark on an affair.  As Nathaniel's secrets come out, he and Eliza must decide if they want to face them together or remain apart.  This is the second installment of the Designing Debutantes series and it didn't disappoint this reader.  The book was sexy, romantic and contained secrets that if unleashed on the aristocracy in London, would ruin Eliza and her sister's business and also the lives of Nathaniel and his ward.  I am looking forward to the next story about Verity, Eliza's younger sister.

I received the book as an ARC from Netgalley and I am voluntarily leaving a review
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Impoverished widow Eliza finds freedom and success with Elegant Occasions. Nathaniel, Earl of Foxstead, hires the company to introduce his ward into society. Eliza wonders about the relationship between him and the young woman. Meanwhile, his attraction to Eliza is complicated by his family situation—he struggles between duty and desire. Eliza is impossible to resist, but he risks losing her forever if she learns the truth.

Eliza and Nathaniel are a delightful pair, their witty interactions showing their intelligence and competence. The novel is engaging, peppered with hidden truths that propel the story forward. Despite the difficult decisions the characters face, they remain likable and honorable, doing what they believe is best under challenging circumstances.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
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Nathaniel Stanton, the Earl of Foxstead has always had a crush on Mrs. Eliza Pierce, his friend Sam's wife. When Sam is killed in battle, along with Nathaniel's mentor, Major General James Anson, he decides to head back to London. Just before James died, he asked Nathaniel to become the guardian of Jocelin, his daughter. Nathaniel thought maybe he could get Eliza's help through her company, Elegant Occasions to give Jocelin a debut into society. What Nathaniel didn't realize is that Jocelin was pregnant at the time they started making their way back to London.

Nathaniel meets with Eliza and her sisters and introduces them to Jocelin, but they alter her history a little. As Nathaniel spends more time with Eliza, all those old stirring start to come alive again. For once in his life, Nathaniel could actually see himself getting married to Eliza.....too bad after her horrible marriage to Sam, she never wants to go down that path again. Of course the more time these two spend together, the stronger their chemistry becomes. Their banter back and forth is downright steamy at times!

Just when it seems that everything is going perfectly, the past along with some hidden secrets come rushing in and blows everything up. Once these two actually take a look deep down, they realizes that they belong together and finally get their happy ending.

I really loved this best friend's widowed wife historical romance. Nathaniel was so dreamy, loyal and an honest guy you couldn't help but root for him. Eliza's first marriage was not a happy one so she was very reluctant to every go down that road again, but with Nathaniel, she found what a good marriage is suppose to be like. I really enjoyed this story and can't wait for Verity's!
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I very much enjoyed this second book in the Designing Debutantes series.  Eliza has found herself after suffering through an unhappy marriage by running the business she and her sisters started. They needed the income to support themselves yet walk a fine line between the stench of trade and staying respectable in the Ton.
I liked the back and forth between Eliza and Nathaniel and it was good to catch up with Diana and Gregory. I would suggest reading A Duke For Diana first to know the background of the sisters.

A big thanks to #NetGalley and  for giving me a chance to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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What Happens in the Ballroom
Designing Debutantes Series - Book 2
By Sabrina Jeffries

Zebra Books - April 2023

Historical Romance

Nathaniel Stanton, Earl of Foxstead, needed help. He was now guardian to twenty year old Jocelin March, whose father and husband had both died in battle. She was a young widow with a two year old child, and Nathaniel wished to find her settled with a nice husband. He wanted to do so quickly as she had no remaining family, and once she turned twenty-one, it would be inappropriate for her to remain with him. But he knew exactly who could help them. His best friend's widow.

Elegant Occasions was the success Mrs. Eliza Pierce and her two sisters had hoped, and known, it could be. They used the skills they had learned growing up in society to help others. When Eliza learned of Jocelin's situation, and how she too had been widowed as a result of the same battle, she agreed to take it under consideration.

Spending time with Nathaniel, Eliza begins to doubt the things her husband had told her. Which doubting him had become all too common. Nathaniel was attentive, caring of his sister, and invested in honoring his commitments. He was also someone who would need to find a wife and have heirs, and he had secrets. She had no intention of marrying again, and was tired of secrets.

What Happens in the Ballroom is an excellent addition to Sabrina Jeffries' entertaining Designing Debutantes series. Eliza is an enterprising woman determined to succeed. Nathaniel is dedicated to his family and his vow to help Jocelin. They are both individuals who care strongly for those close to them, and I enjoyed watching them realize their feelings for one another. As with A Duke For Diana, it was interesting to learn more of what goes in to planning and organizing these events.

Kathy Andrico -
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I did enjoy this book very much. I loved little Jimmy and his mispronunciation of words. I liked the idea of Eliza and her sisters providing a service for other people.  There were a number of secrets which in turn led to a number of lies being told. However, it was with good intentions but it does mean that Nathaniel, Earl of Foxstead has some explaining to do. Eliza and Nathaniel were very attracted to each other and there are some steamy moments. Neither of them had thought about marriage for their own reasons. When the secrets are revealed, Eliza has some serious thinking to do. I have got the first book in my tbr pile, I’m keen to read that now. I received a copy and have voluntarily reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I will say, their relationship definitely went through some tough stuff and there were a lot of lies and hidden truths on Nathaniel’s side. I think he had a pretty good reason, but Eliza is understandably mad and she made some wonderful points. I found that the breakup actually made the story stronger and I had so much respect for her.

But altogether, if you’re not into lies, maybe stay away from this one. I found the mystery of them interesting and I was never angry, but I do think the cheery writing and great characters helped appease me. I was only ever vexed by Jocelin, but even then all was good in the end and she made the right choices. I was maybe a little less giddy than book one, but more giggly.

I’m rounding up to five stars because I know I will be rereading this and I know the audiobook will be such a fun time. I have to assume it’s going to be narrated by Beverley A. Crick and let me tell you I LOVE her. I think the audiobook is part of the reason I loved book one so much. Sabrina Jeffries writes such funny and witty dialogue and Crick absolutely delivers. I was laughing out loud like a weirdo while reading this book and can’t wait to hear her interpretation.
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This was an entertaining, well-written book. It was fun, steamy, held my interest and I wanted to find out what was going to happen. I enjoyed this book and will eagerly look for more books by this author.
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Oh my gosh, I freaking love Eliza! So proper and yet so kind, I loved seeing her learn to trust herself and men again. Standing up for herself and refusing to settle for less than she deserves. Hear hear!! And Nathaniel....boy he is walking some mighty thin lines trying to take care of the world around him while keeping secrets but still falling in many things to juggle when you keep them all locked up tight. 

Truly a lovely story, I couldn't put it down! Lots of surprises along the way. And I can't wait for Verity's book!!
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I enjoyed the story, but I had a really hard time being able to like the book.  It was not very engaging in the beginning and the end went too quickly.  I would recommend this to anyone who likes historical romance.

Thank you to Sabrina Jeffries, Kensington Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This Regency Romance is about the three Harper sisters who have used each of their attributes to help them create a business that had become the most sought-after aid to throwing social events, called Elegant Occasions. Where they are hired to help prospective debutants become successful. This is the second book of this series and is Eliza and Nathaniel’s story. 

Mrs. Eliza Pierce is the widow of Nathaniel’s eldest and closest friend Samuel who died in the war in the peninsula. Nathaniel hires Elegant Occasions to help Mrs. Jocelin March’s coming out to society for the season after losing her father and her husband in the war, leaving her with a small son. 

Although Nathaniel Stanton, the Earl of Foxstead is strictly just Jocelin guardian, he is hoping that by using the sisters’ business, him and Eliza will become closer, since he has always been taken by her beauty. But he is also hiding some rather major secrets as well. That just might cause obstacles on the path to love! 

Witty banter, seduction, and passion blend seamlessly to create this entertaining, emotional romance. With an intriguing plot, and complex characters to provide the perfect sensual escape. There’s nothing I didn’t love about What Happens In The Ballroom, especially its lush captivating glimpse into history. 

I received an early copy and this is my honest review.
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The premise of the series is simple: the Harper sisters weathered a family scandal and came out the other side by starting their own business, preparing young ladies for their debuts and helping them navigate Society. This second in the series focuses on eldest sister Eliza, whose less-than-ideal left her widowed several years earlier. His best friend, Nathaniel, newly the Earl of Foxstead, comes back into Eliza’s life hoping she and her sisters can help his new ward make an advantageous match in London. 

Of course, nothing is ever that simple. Eliza and Nathaniel have chemistry to spare, and readers will decide early on that he’s probably a better match than her husband ever was. Their romantic scenes together are clever and romantic and steamy all at once. But the reasons they shouldn’t be together are many – they have a professional relationship now, she never wants to marry again, and, in true regency romance fashion, he has too many secrets he doesn’t think he can reveal yet. 

I happened to predict all of Nathaniel’s secrets before they were revealed, and yet, the book was so engaging that I never felt like it was predictable. There was so much going on, but Jeffries makes it work so well. In less capable hands, it could have felt like Too Much, but here, it felt just right. I loved Nathaniel and Eliza possibly even more than the leads of the first book, and I’m so intrigued by youngest sister Verity and her “phantom fellow” that I’m annoyed I have to wait a year for their story.
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This story has a special place in my heart. The ending and revelation of the secrets kept me on edge throughout the whole story and I did not see any of it coming. This review may contain some spoilers. 
The heroine is the eldest of 3 lady sisters who fell on bad times. The heroine is a 27 year old widow, whose husband was killed in the war. The ladies needed to come up with a way to support themselves and they created a business where they help awkward or shy young ladies become more comfortable with themselves. They teach the young ladies all of the things that are needed such as music, embroidery, polite conversation and dancing. They help the young ladies overcome some social faux pas and they are able to find husbands. They then get paid by the parents and they ask for their clients to refer others. They are attending a musical where the eldest sister is in charge of the activities in addition to playing an instrument and singing. The heroine is approached by a man, who was her husband's best friend. He also went to war with her husband, but he made it back safely. The hero is attending the musical with his sister, who is not husband hunting and his ward. His ward is actually the daughter of his commanding officer. The same battle that killed the heroine's husband, injured the girl's father and he died about a week later. The daughter is also a widow with a rambunctious son. He asks the heroine for help in making his ward more comfortable since she was raised by her father and did not have very much society experience. The heroine and her sisters agree to help the hero out. The heroine's sisters tell the heroine that she is ready to move on and the hero seems interested. But the hero is holding back some crucial information.
Boy, I wish I could give more information, but that would ruin the whole story. Like I said, I did not see much of the drama and revelations that occurred in the story.i really liked the characters and the supporting characters ters. I liked who this was part of a series, but this story was stand alone about the hero and heroine. The part of the story that relied on the series was the fact that the three sisters run a business together. I liked this story from start to finish. I give it 5 stars and recommend reading.
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This is the first book that I have read from Sabrina Jefferies. You can get the story and not have to have read another story as in a stand alone. The heroine is a strong widow who has to learn the facts of her deceased army husband from the hero who was best friends and army buddies with him. The interaction comes through the past to the present. I will read any book by this author now.
I received the ARC from NetGalley and leaving my review by my own accord.
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